Diagnosing Skin Glycation

Florence Barrett-Hill

Many of you may remember the article “Glycation and the Ageing Process”; this was an advanced article about the formation of glucose receptors on the collagen & elastin fibres of the dermis.

This article was written to help you understand how to “ESTABLISH CAUSE of the skin condition GLYCATION. “To continue that discussion I ask the question “Do you know how to diagnose GLYCATION?”

There can be as many as nine individual skin conditions within an aged skin, each with an individual cause, each with a different treatment solution. In times past a beauty therapist pooled all of these skin conditions together, calling it a devitalised skin, this is inappropriate for the skin treatment therapist of today.

With clients more experienced and educated than before a modern therapist must offer the advanced treatment programs of the new millennium, addressing each skin condition, establishing cause and more importantly achieving a result.

Once considered a skin condition only found in mature skins GLYCATION is becoming more prevalent and I am diagnosing this condition in younger and younger skin. WHY? Of course for those of you who have read “Glycation and the Ageing Process”will know, for those of you who have not I suggest you go to that article and read it now.

Hyperglycaemia is a dietary problem of the new millennium, highly processed foods and fast foods being contributing factors and even though there is a new wave of better eating habits, processed foods are with us to stay.

Establishing cause of GLYCATION will obviously lead back to the clients work/play lifestyle and with care and attention can be turned around and halted. With the older client GLYCATION will be part of the extrinsic ageing process and the extent and severity of the condition will depend on the inherited strength of the skin.

So what do you look for in the skin? How does GLYCATION manifest itself in the skin?
It is the collagen & elastin fibres that contribute to the outward appearance of GLYCATION as can been seen below, the proteins of the epidermis form a network of fibres that represent the weave of fabric.

Differences in collagen fibres over time

Like fabric it has a weave, nap and bias.  Collagen is primarily the vertical weave and is responsible for skin density and structural integrity.
In a young healthy skin the collagen fibres are crimped, and slide over each other giving flexibility to the skin.

Squaring off and glycation of collagen and elastin first becomes evident as soft pillows usually around the eye area, as shown here. Note small “pillows” in eye fold

Glycation causes the fibres of collagen and elastin to stick together, causing the proteins to become ridged, in addition the collagen crimping becomes less, loosing its flexability, This process is slow but increases with time as the body defence systems decline with age.

What can be done about Glycation?

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha-lipoic acid or thioctic acid is an antioxidant that is produced naturally in the body. It functions as a co-factor for a number of important enzymes responsible for the conversion of our food to energy (ATP). However, we still need to get most of our lipoic acid from our diet or from supplements.

The next area that glycation becomes apparent is around the mouth area, this becomes hardened and less flexable, and later becomes apparent over the cheek area

In nature, lipoic acid is found in the leaves of some plants and in red meat. Unlike other antioxidants, lipoic acid is both fat and water-soluble and is easily absorbed and transported across cell membranes. This unique quality offers protection against free radicals both inside and outside the cell while other antioxidants only provide extracellular protection. Lipoic acid has the ability to regenerate other antioxidants like vitamin E, vitamin C and GSH for further use after they have eradicated free radicals.

Individuals that display limitations in moderating blood sugar concentrations often have a serious problem with glycation caused by higher than normal levels of blood sugar due to low insulin production or insulin resistance.

As the client ages the squaring off becomes very obvious as shown here

Glycation happens when blood sugar reacts quickly and spontaneously with proteins to form damaging adhesian of collagen & elastin. This causes severe tissue damage and accelerates skin ageing.

Lipoic acid curtails glycation and enhances the transfer of blood sugar into the cells by stimulating insulin activity. Studies show that patients suffering from symptoms of diabetic neuropathy improved significantly when they supplemented with 600 mg of lipoic acid daily .



Stay Notified

Sign up for news on topics of interest that will help you grow your career and our new releases.